You are browsing the archive for activism.

MLK on Commitment – Are you making a difference?

8:56 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Here is an excerpt from one of Martin Luther King’s more famous speeches:

I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.

Well, I can admit I don’t quite measure up to Martin’s standard. The good news is, though, that with each passing year, I have become a better warrior. Read the rest of this entry →

“In Solidarity”, Mr. Trumka?

1:22 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

What’s the deal, man? I read all that stuff you send me. You talk to me about the plight of workers. You talk to me about anti-worker trade policies. You talk to me about health care and other benefits. You even, once, talked to me about how Democrats who don’t support workers cannot expect your help in the future.

You asked me to call Congress. I called. You asked me to write Congress. I wrote.

Truthfully, I didn’t think it would do a damned bit of good. I was right.

Now you’re trying to convince me that Obama’s jobs bill is a big step in the right direction. Will you ever learn?

Until Big Labor stands up to the two-party corporate machine and stands with the activists in the streets against global corporate tyranny, nothing is going to change.

You sign your emails “In Solidarity” but where are you while OccupyWallSt protesters are being arrested in droves? Where is Big Labor, Mr. Trumka? Where is the AFL-CIO? Where is this “solidarity” you claim in your signature?

You need to stand with the 99%, Mr. Trumka. You need to follow the example of the Transit Workers who voted unanimously to join the OccupyWallSt protests. But you don’t do that sir, do you? Instead, you still cast your lot with the Democrats; instead, you still think you’re “playing it safe”. It’s inconceivable that you continue to beat that same old, dead horse. American unions are nearly extinct and still you cling to your naive belief that the Democrats will save you if you show them some loyalty.

So, no Mr. Trumka, I will not join you. You join us. Until then, you are doing little more than obstructing the revolution. Get your people into the streets and then drop me a line. Show me some of this “solidarity” you speak of and I’ll be glad to join your cause.

In solidarity with enlightened labor,

welshTerrier2

Wisconsin: It Ain’t No Revolution… Yet

12:51 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

There comes to each revolutionary a “eureka” moment.  The light is off; the light goes on.  When enough of us turn our lights on, the revolution will happen.

Wisconsin labor and its supporters have been demonstrating (pun intended) a key ingredient for revolution.  They are in the streets day after day and they’ve sustained their numbers and their energy.

But, why are they in the streets? Who are the marquee speakers who have come to address them? What is the nature and purpose of their uprising? If Governor Walker backed down, would they just disband and go home? I’m afraid the answer is that they would.

When we look at a building, we see its structure above the ground.  But no building can stand for long without a solid foundation. The Wisconsin “revolution” is reactive.  The Governor did this; the demonstrators did that. From an organizing and activism perspective, that’s great. For revolution, a sustainable revolution, there’s no “there” there… yet.

If demonstrators take to the streets to fight for collective bargaining rights, their cause is just but far too narrow.  If they organize politically into a “Dump the Governor” campaign, their cause offers minimal single-election progress. The vision and purpose of each and every demonstrator must be informed and energized by something greater. I haven’t seen or heard that emanating from Wisconsin… yet. They are not going to hear the necessary message from speakers like Jesse Jackson or Russ Feingold.  These men both have integrity; they are darlings of the liberals and the progressives; they are not revolutionaries. Liberals may win a battle or two; they will never win the war.

Former labor leader, James P. Cannon, said of strikes that took place in 1934:  “It has been the lack of precisely this element, which only a Marxist party can supply, that condemned the insurgent labor movement of the past to futility and defeat. Lacking a class theory of its own, which can come into the labor movement in no other way than through the Marxist party, the American workers, with all their militancy and capacity for sacrifice, fell victim to all kinds of quackery and treason and landed in a blind alley every time.”

There is no reason to believe that either a Marxist party nor Marxism itself is the only path to revolution.  But, unlike what we’ve seen from the major labor unions, there is no escaping the need to build a movement on a solid foundation of class warfare. This doesn’t mean unions should abandon the issue-by-issue battles they’ve been fighting but, rather, that they need to shape the “gestalt of their resistance” under the umbrella of class warfare. They also need to rethink their robotic support for the Democratic Party. To do otherwise leaves them, and all workers, powerless in the halls of government. Because government is controlled by the corporations and the wealthy elite, the unions will ultimately fail if they seek remedies through this corrupt political process.

To succeed, unions must set a new course… a revolutionary course.  They must seek to go beyond the employee grievance model and the collective bargaining negotiating process. They must wage a campaign beyond the corrupt two-party political process. Until unions build a revolutionary movement and negotiate from strength rather than from weakness, they, and all workers, will grow weaker and weaker. That’s exactly what’s been happening for the last fifty years or more.

To win the class war, workers must have more power in their places of employment than investors have.  Clearly, that is not the case today. Workers must “control the means of production.”  In my view, investors should not be able to vote at shareholder meetings.  Only the workers, perhaps including past workers, should have a vote. With worker-owned cooperatives, we might just see fewer plant closings and fewer jobs being exported overseas. We might just see corporate political contributions being made to pro-worker candidates instead of corporatist candidates.  We might just see economic and political justice in America. Unions need to place this vision at the core of their mission.  They also need to fight on behalf of all workers and not just their own memberships.

In a recent communique, the SEIU announced that they are going to change the tactics they’ve been using.  They stated:

“Unless SEIU and the labor movement jettison the service model of unionism, there will be no unions left.

•  We are in a class war.
•  The Democrats and the Republicans stab us in the back. We need our own labor candidates to run.
•  We don’t get anything that we don’t organize and fight for in the political arena.  Politics is secondary to organizing.
•  Our job is to find new ways to create a movement and to use non-traditional methods of struggle. (i.e. to go beyond the grievance process and help members organize themselves and put themselves in motion.)
•  We represent the working class, not just our members.”

This is exactly what unions need to do.

Starting this Monday, you can do something to bring the Wisconsin battle closer to home.  You can broaden your resume by moving from online activism to street activism. Solidarity demonstrations to support workers in Wisconsin are being scheduled all over the country. Here’s a link to help you find a rally near where you live. Get out there and make it happen.